Berman and Stieglitz Galleries, ground floor
The first survey of landscape work by this important American artist, Voyage of Discovery presents more than 100 prints from a remarkable body of photographs created by Ray K. Metzker between 1985 and 1998, most of which has never before been exhibited. These exquisite images can be appreciated for the artist's commanding mastery of the medium as well as for their philosophical underpinnings.
Metzker turned suddenly to photographing the landscape in 1985 during an autumn trip to Tuscany, where he produced a series of works titled Feste di Foglie (Celebration of Leaves). The artist's joyous response to Italy launched him on a subject he would pursue for more than a decade, resulting in one of the most poetic and varied treatments of this subject in the history of photography. These lyrical photographs are a significant departure from the bold, urban images for which the artist previously had been known. Subjects are often chosen because he perceives them as metaphors for the human situation. In working in the landscape, Metzker has challenged his own limits and extended his reach.
The landscape series continued to grow and change into the early 1990s as the artist traveled to locations as diverse as Colorado, Wisconsin, Turkey, and France, among others. The delicacy of line evident in the earliest Feste images gave way, as the work progressed, to more complex views that blur the distinction between subject and background. Since 1994, Metzker has worked almost exclusively in the Moab, Utah. Less intimate than the images at the beginning of the project, these recent photographs are more dramatic in capturing the sweep of Western vistas.
Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Metzker has made his home in Philadelphia since 1962. Prior to that, he studied with Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind at the Institute of Design in Chicago. The artist has been the recipient of many awards, including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. His work from the past forty years is well represented in cultural institutions in both in the U.S. and abroad. The exhibition offers an opportunity to see a master of the medium at the top of his game.
An accompanying 149-page catalogue will be published by Aperture Foundation and will feature 110 tritone reproductions made from the original prints. The book will include an essay and chronology by Evan H. Turner that trace the importance of landscape throughout Metzker's artistic career.
Evan H. Turner • Retired director of the Cleveland Museum of Art (and director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art from 1964 to 1977)
Katherine Ware • Curator of Photographs at the Alfred Stieglitz Center of the Museum's Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs